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Girls In The Back Room: Looking At The Lesbian Bar by Kelly Hankin

By Kelly Hankin

The lesbian bar has lengthy been obvious as a mysterious position, steeped in mythologies of clandestine conferences and sexuality that's attractive since it is wayward and sinful. within the women within the again Room, Kelly Hankin specializes in the lesbian bar, how it is portrayed in such movies as cunning Brown, The Killing of Sister George, uncomplicated intuition, certain, and Chasing Amy; in tv sequence just like the Simpsons, Xena: Warrior Princess, Roseanne, Ellen, and intercourse and the town; and in self reliant, lesbian-produced documentaries.
Hankin examines the lesbian bar via a attention of the methods its illustration in pop culture either oppresses and nourishes lesbian cultures. In renowned advertisement leisure, she reveals, the view of the lesbian bar as a personal house in case you perform aberrant sexuality implicitly reinforces heterosexual spatial and social privilege. via her in-depth background of the construction of 1968's The Killing of Sister George and the deception serious about director Robert Aldrich's use of a true lesbian bar and its consumers, for instance, Hankin uncovers the heterosexist preconceptions in proof on each side of the digicam. She argues that lesbian-produced works successfully problem this paradigm, articulating and confirming optimistic visions of lesbian public existence and id. the women within the again Room offers an interesting historic and theoretical research of the visible lesbian bar as a revelatory intersection of gender, sexuality, and area.
Kelly Hankin is an assistant professor of English at previous Dominion collage.

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Extra info for Girls In The Back Room: Looking At The Lesbian Bar

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Mostly patronized by prostitutes and their girlfriends who live on the fringes of the criminal world and are therefore more likely to be involved in fights and drug-taking” (, ). But if lesbian bars are represented as crime-ridden spaces, their relationship to prostitution also foregrounds their value to heterosexual men. Indeed, armchair travelers and potential slummers discover that lesbian bars are readily available for male sexual gratification. For example, in 16 Looking at the Lesbian Bar Henry’s Sex Variants, one lesbian interviewee legitimizes the heterosexual consumption of lesbian bars and their patrons, stating, “Men go [to midtown lesbian clubs] too, mostly for queer women” (, ).

4 If the reader were to use these varied sources as guides, as many women did, she might find and experience for herself public lesbian life. 6 Women who up until this time had been led to understand their same-sex desires as abnormal and unique now understood these desires to be shared by an untold number of other women. This notion of shared or collective sexual identity worked together with a number of turn-of-the-century historical and cultural forces to catapult many lesbians from domestic isolation into public social action.

As a barmaid served a bottle of beer, one sailor impulsively threw his arm around her and then reached up and kissed her lips. ” () Lesbian bars are also revealed to be perfectly acceptable and open entertainment for the touring heterosexual couple. In Female Homosexuality, Caprio describes lesbian bars as places where “upper social circle” heterosexuals go slumming (, ). Stearn’s account of lesbian bars confirms Caprio’s description. During one of his numerous tours of lesbian bars, Stearn meets up with Virginia, “a lovely young society girl,” and her boyfriend, both taking in the exotic sights and mixing with bar patrons (, –).

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